Successful people are usually those that spend most of their time in productive pastimes. From least productive to most productive, there are four types of activity:
1. Destructive: fighting, drinking, suing, being angry, etc.
2. Fun but wasteful: watching television, reading fiction, shopping, drinking late
3. Knowledge building: learning almost anything
4. Wealth building: (I’m using the term “wealth” broadly here.)
In my experience, the more productively you work, the better you do. You may sometimes wish it weren’t that way, but it usually is. Yes, there are exceptions. There are times when people get lucky on their first throw of the dice. Such stories are wonderful and well publicized, but they happen very rarely. You can also, I admit, overdo productivity.
In an effort to conquer the entire world in the course of a lifetime, you can lose your soul. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It isn’t likely to be your problem. I am always amused when someone — usually someone very skinny or very fat — disparages exercise by saying something like “I don’t work out with weights, because I don’t want to look like Arnold Schwarzenneger.”) What you are worried about — and correct me if Im wrong — is whether you are productive enough.
You are probably asking yourself: “Am I really working hard enough and smart enough to accomplish my goals?” “Will I ever be able to experience all those wonderful things I always wished for?” “Are there dreams I’ve already buried?” “Will they haunt me later on?” Today, get honest with yourself. Give yourself a productivity self-assessment.
Here’s how to do it:
* Starting today and continuing for the next three days, track your hours meticulously.
* Rate each activity as productive, wasteful, or destructive.
* Tally up your totals by the percentage of time you spend on each. Then face the truth.
Do you spend at least 80% of your waking hours productively? And if wealth building is your goal, do you spend most of your productive time on it? Do you spend less than 10% of your time in destructive activities? (I am not against a little destructive activity. I encourage it. You need to do just enough to make life interesting, but no more. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but it’s fun trying to get it right.)
Do you waste less than 10% of your time? (Most people — if honest with themselves — would be shocked by how much time they waste.) Then, when you’re done with this assessment . . . when you have a clear idea of how much time you are spending on things that will not help you achieve your goals . . . do something about it.
MMF[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]